USC school considers levy referendum

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 10, 2003

The United South Central school district has decided to push for a referendum for this year’s November elections, despite the public’s overwhelming denial of the district’s last referendum.

The board is considering a $300 per-student levy referendum that would raise $300,000 annually over five to 10 years.

School board chairman Pat Staloch said the school will need more money to operate in the next few years.

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&uot;We’re looking down the road,&uot; he said. &uot;I don’t think there is a school in the state that won’t be looking for ways to increase revenue.&uot;

Staloch said the referendum would go toward paying for many projects in the district, including updating textbooks, upgrading technology and re-doing some school building construction work.

Two years ago, the district pushed for a bond referendum with the hope of building a new school. The $32 million bond for a new K-12 school building failed, with 71 percent of voters saying no to the referendum.

A levy referendum, like the one being considered for November, raises money for school operations and can’t be used for new buildings. A bond referendum is the opposite.

But things have changed since the last vote. The controversial superintendent who headed the last referendum campaign resigned last year, and the district has since hired a new superintendent. Still, the board knows it has an uphill climb ahead of it.

Staloch said the board is trying to take a straightforward campaign in backing the referendum this time, after some residents of the district accused the school of misleading campaigning during the last referendum.

&uot;We are trying to be up front,&uot; he said, adding that information would be readily available to the public on the issue.

The district will vote Monday night on the details of the referendum.

But there may be others in the future as well.

The district’s buildings are still in poor shape, and Staloch said they may also consider another bond referendum in the near future to fix them up or build a new school.

The board plans on meeting with the Wells City Council later this month to discuss purchasing land for a new school.

&uot;I think we can work well together with the city to come up with a plan that might work for both of us,&uot; Staloch said. At this point, he emphasized, the board has not decided to put a bond referendum on a future ballot.

(Contact Peter Cox at peter.cox or 379-3439.)